Wednesday, 26 February 2014

More effective laws needed to fight money laundering

Effective laws to crack down on money laundering will get Myanmar out of the bad books of the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and encourage more international investment, experts said.

A report issued last year by FATF, a global body set up to track down terrorist financing and money laundering, put Iran and North Korea at the top of a list of countries it labelled “high-risk” and “non-cooperative” that also included Myanmar as it either had no applicable laws, or its laws did not comply with international standards.

But U Thurain Zaw, a senior investigator with the Financial Investigation Unit, said parliament might enact money laundering and counter-terrorist financing laws as early as this month.

“FATF has recognised our performance, but we still need further progress,” he said.

FATF said Myanmar has not made sufficient progress in implementing its action plan and should continue to address deficiencies, including criminalising terrorist financing and establishing procedures to identify and freeze terrorists’ assets.

FIU sources said the government had seized about US$200 million in 70 cases of money laundering over the past 10 years, though the illicit activity is still rampant.

Police Captain U Myint Soe said FIU was confident Myanmar would be struck from the FATF blacklist soon.

Economist Sean Turnell, associate professor at Maquarie University, Australia, said illegitimate funds could be laundered through property development, adding that the most prominent money launders in Myanmar would be repatriating funds sent offshore under the military regime now that those funds could be profitably reinvested here.

Policing money laundering must take place at the point of entry of the illicit funds into the financial system, he said.

source: The Myanmar Times
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